Just for people's information, a number of us were disturbed to find that the referee last night not only had a string of bad press reviews but came from Devon and had local connections. So I wrote to the Football League. This was their reply:
'PGMOL operates an appointments policy based on a Referee's integrity, not where he comes from. In this sense, Devon is a large county, like others such as Cumbria and Lancashire, and referees can often travel over 40/50 miles and still be in same or nearby County. In this sense it would be entirely impractical to appoint referees around the country making them travel long hours than are necessary.
There are a number of integrity measures upheld constantly. For example, each Referee is excluded from any Club where he, or a family member has an affiliation or support that Club, or he has had any connection with that Club (e.g. played in the academy, or was a supporter in the past).
We can confirm that the appointed referee has no connection with Exeter City or Ipswich Town and as such was eligible to do the game.'
I asked them further about his apparent lack of fitness (he had been described as 'unfit and overweight' in a previous press review, so I watched him and indeed he spent much of his time in the middle third of the pitch, jogging or walking in and out of the centre circle). They gave me a 'contextual' response:
'The performances of all officials are constantly monitored by way of club and match observer, match videos or DVD and footage received by the referee coaches. Matches are also analysed by the Referees' Manager, a referees’ coach and the referee and, despite the perception of some, match officials are most accountable for their performances and these can impact on future appointments.
Ultimately, referees in the modern game are scrutinised more closely than ever before, whether by their coach, match assessors or Referees’ manager, to ensure integrity is maintained at all times.
PGMOL appoint referees with this criteria in mind and all referees train, and progress their careers by ensuring integrity is maintained at all times. Fitness tests are conducted throughout the season and in terms of ongoing referee improvements, the emphasis is on the development of referees and refereeing standards. The match assessor is asked to appraise the referee’s performance against the following competencies;
• Application of the Laws of the Game and disciplinary control
• Management of the games and players
• Fitness, positioning and movements.'
I'm sure all this is true, though this ref did enough to wind up Winder sufficiently to give him a yellow card; and it doesn't quite explain his extraordinary record of Exeter having won all the games he's officiated involving them.
But having said that, we deserved to lose anyway!